Inspiration from David George Haskell’s book, The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature

I wasn’t expecting to have to run back inside for a jacket for my morning walk to the gate, but I did and was still cold. It was right at 50 degrees with a chill stiletto wind that slips down around your neck  and makes you hunch up your shoulders.

The pictures here are ones I took this morning. There was a low cloud cover, with just enough light so that the camera did its point and shoot thang without the flash. So, there’s a little story in the captions. You’ll be seeing lots of these sorts of photos as the year moves on. I want to document the plants here in a slightly more orderly way than I have in the past. Probably because I’ve just started reading David George Haskell’s highly recommended book, The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature. I’d like to take my fingers out of all the other pies they’re in, and hide out to read this book with no interruptions. Thanks to my friend, writer and the BBQ/coffee king, David C. Bailey, for giving me a head’s up on this one. I’m no scientist, but I am surely a loving observer.

I believe that the forest’s ecological stories are all present in a mandala-sized area. Indeed, the truth of the forest may be more clearly and vividly revealed by the contemplation of a small area than it could be by donning ten-league boots, covering a continent but uncovering little.

The search for the universal within the infinitesimally small is a quiet theme playing through most cultures. The Tibetan mandala is our guiding metaphor, but we also find context for this work in Western culture. Blake’s poem “Auguries of Innocence” raises the stakes by shrinking the mandala to a speck of earth or a flower: “To see a World in a Grain of Sand/And a Heaven in a Wild Flower.” Blake’s desire builds on the tradition of Western mysticism most notably demonstrated by the Christian contemplatives. For Saint John of the Cross, Saint Francis of Assisi, or Lady Julian of Norwich, a dungeon, a cave, or a tiny hazelnut could all serve as lenses through which to experience the ultimate reality.

~David George Haskell (from his Preface to The Forest Unseen)

Florida Anise (Illicium Floridanum), photo taken at Longleaf Preserve on April 5, 2013 on bank of natural spring, where it blooms this time every year.
Florida Anise (Illicium Floridanum), photo taken at Longleaf Preserve on April 5, 2013 on bank of natural spring, where it blooms this time every year.

 

Photographed at Longleaf Preserve on April 5, 2013. We were leaving town for several months back in the year 2000. My step-daughter had given me several iris plants, and I had bought a couple, too. Some had yellow flowers, others purple. I slipped them into the stream-bed muck, hoping they would like having their feet wet all summer. Ever since, they continue to thrive and divide, and make a big show for us each Spring.
Photographed at Longleaf Preserve on April 5, 2013. We were leaving town for several months back in the year 2000. My step-daughter had given me several iris plants, and I had bought a couple, too. Some had yellow flowers, others purple. I slipped them into the stream-bed muck, hoping they would like having their feet wet all summer. Ever since, they continue to thrive and divide, and make a big show for us each Spring.

 

Purple Thistle (Cirsium Horridulum) Easily recognizable, a weed seen in ruderal spots nearly everywhere. This one was photographed halfway between house and gate at Longleaf Preserve on April 5, 2013. My husband, Buck, didn't run over it when he ran the bush-hog yesterday because he knows I have a soft spot for blooming thistles.
Purple Thistle (Cirsium Horridulum) Easily recognizable, a weed seen in ruderal spots nearly everywhere. This one was photographed halfway between house and gate at Longleaf Preserve on April 5, 2013. My husband, Buck, didn’t run over it when he ran the bush-hog yesterday because he knows I have a soft spot for blooming thistles.

 

Each fall, Buck and our friend Harold bush-hog the clearing all around the house and plant it with oats, wheat and rye. Deer, bunnies and other critters nibble it and sleep in it all winter and then they eat the seeds. It's a real boon for our wild turkeys and migrating birds. This is how it looked today, April 5, 2013.
Each fall, Buck and our friend Harold bush-hog the clearing all around the house and plant it with oats, wheat and rye. Deer, bunnies and other critters nibble it and sleep in it all winter and then they eat the seeds. It’s a real boon for our wild turkeys and migrating birds. This is how it looked today, April 5, 2013.

 

Henbit (Lamium Amplexicaule) is an annual broadleaf weed. It prettifies our clearing every year and makes for unhappy golfers and happy bees. You can guess which one I care about the most. I took this photo this morning, April 5, 2013 at Longleaf Preserve.
Henbit (Lamium Amplexicaule) is an annual broadleaf weed. It prettifies our clearing every year and makes for unhappy golfers and happy bees. You can guess which one I care about the most. I took this photo this morning, April 5, 2013 at Longleaf Preserve.

 

See caption on the yellow iris for an explanation of how this stunner came to live in the stream-bed. Photo taken at Longleaf Preserve April 5, 2013.
See caption on the yellow iris for an explanation of how this stunner came to live in the stream-bed. Photo taken at Longleaf Preserve April 5, 2013.

 

 

 

 

5 thoughts on “Inspiration from David George Haskell’s book, The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature

  1. I shared your recent video with Lon a few minutes ago. We watched it together as I had tried to watch it at work yesterday with too many interruptions. We both enjoyed listening to your relaxing voice and experiencing the day with you. It was sooo fun and entertaining. You’re too cute.

    After that, I came to today’s blog. The book you mention sounds splendid. Finding the world in a grain of sand–how breathtaking is that. Thoroughly searching a small area does sound much more intriguing to me than covering a lot of ground. I think that may be evident in my love of close up shots of nature.

    As I read your post of today, I could hear your voice speaking the words to me. What a lovely way to wind down my day!!

    Thank you, thank you for all that you are and all that you share.

    Like

  2. I liked the passage where he finds a golf ball in his square-meter lab. My best friend from Florida went to the Amazon RIver with me and would tell people the reason he wanted to go is to get to a place where he couldn’t find a golf ball. On the first day, our guide told him to forget about not finding golf balls. Japanese tourists hit them off the back of their jungle tour boats.

    Like

  3. Like imshaddy, I could hear your voice, Beth. I love the photos and the piece from the book. I’m slowing reading The World Without Us, about how quickly (or not) Earth would recover if all humans disappeared from it. Fascinating! Thanks for another lovely post.

    Like

  4. What a beautiful post! The lovely introduction of what appears to be a really interesting book has motivated me to seek it out. The images of the flora makes me long to be outside!

    Thank you!

    Like

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